Before the 2017 NFL Draft, the overwhelming majority of personnel guys and draft guys all thought “the 2016 RB class is good, but WAIT until you see the 2017 RB class.” A year later, the tune has changed quite a bit. After a bit of a disappointing year from Leonard Fournette, and the fact that many outstanding juniors have decided to return for their senior seasons, the class has significantly weakened.
With that being said, there are some good players still coming out in the 2017 Draft, but let’s take a look at what it once was. Before or even during the early parts of the college football season, there were 7 RBs in the 1st round discussion. Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook, Christian McCaffrey, Samaje Perine, Nick Chubb, Royce Freeman, and even Joe Mixon.
Fournette has battled an ankle injury most of the season and many questioned whether he really wanted to play at all this year, and at times it showed on the football field. Many football guys don’t know if it was the lack of ‘want’ or just the painful issues of his ankle slowing him down. There is no doubt that Fournette is the most talented player in this draft, he just hasn’t shown it enough in college. A lot of flashes, similar to Clowney when he was in school. A freak athlete that shows inconsistencies. Others will point to his failures against Alabama throughout his career. Nonetheless, Fournette is still the best back in this draft but there are absolutely more question marks now than there were a year ago.
Dalvin Cook is an extremely explosive player that is a home run play waiting to happen. Cook put on 10 lbs this year to show his body can handle the workload at the next level. There is no doubt that Cook is an outstanding player, but there are questions about being a 200-210 lb back at the next level. He has a ton of bulk and power in his lower body, he just isn’t the biggest guy. Very lean and muscular but to carry the workload at the next level is a big question mark.
Nick Chubb and Royce Freeman decided they were going to stay for their senior seasons after somewhat disappointing junior years. Recent video came out showing Joe Mixon involved with domestic abuse which will completely decimate his chances of getting drafted high in the 2017 Draft.
Perine and McCaffrey both have had solid seasons and will still be in the 1st and 2nd round discussion. Perine is a workhorse and shows to have the body to withstand an NFL beating despite the amount of current wear and tear he has. McCaffrey showed this year he can be more of an every day back and has had another productive year.
Others like Foreman, Kamara and McNichols have come a bit out of nowhere and will definitely be in the discussion in the earlier rounds, but not quite 1st round players.
While it isn’t a ‘weak’ or a ‘bad’ RB class, it certainly isn’t what it once was.